Mobile looks like a threat to the growth of Facebook’s profits, because advertisers aren’t spending much and users aren’t enjoying the experience. But Matt Cohler, thinks that mobile ads are going to be huge, “bigger than the web.” Formerly a Facebook executive and now a general partner with Benchmark Capital, he compares the mobile ad experience to television.
“It’s a lot more like a TV than a web browser ever was,” he says in an interview with Michael Arrington today at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. “[With the web] you’d get 12 different things going on at the same time. It’s not that immersive. The smartphone is one screen for the user to focus on, in a device they have a deep emotional connection to.”
Photo-sharing app Instagram, which he invested in before it was bought by Facebook, was planning on doing this eventually, he adds.
Although he hasn’t made any investments yet this year, he also says that he’s particularly interested in mobile payments, as millions of of users can now make purchases from anywhere. And he’s looking at mobile marketplaces, like private-car service Uber, that take advantage of existing networks through mobile connectivity.
Cohler also shares another interesting historical note. In the very early days of Facebook, around when they were moving into their first offices, the company would talk about itself as “a device in your pocket, that would tell you what your shared context was with anyone around you.” This was before the iPhone, Android and other smartphones of today — and now, that device in your pocket really is what you use, just like early Facebookers had imagined.